I’m taking the reins of Streaming Saturday to give you an important public service announcement. If you’ve signed up for CBS All Access just so you can watch Star Trek Discovery then it’s time to cancel it, at least for now. Discovery won’t be back until January 7, 2018 and unless you like watching reruns of old shows that you can find pretty much everywhere else, it’s time to get busy a-cancelin’. You can sign up again on January 6 and miss NOTHING.
Before Discovery aired I was pretty annoyed that CBS put it on its streaming service and not its traditional broadcast network. Although I’ve liked the show, and I knew I would be paying a minimum of $14 to see it, this has been a pretty flawed process and not at all the sort of thing that I want to see happen again. Let’s put aside for a minute whether or not the show is any good and let’s take a look at the issues that CBS All Access seems to have.
The streaming service has had problems keeping up with demand. There were plenty of times in the first two weeks that people couldn’t stream when they wanted to. You can kind of forgive this for a show like Game of Thrones when about 1/4 of the planet is trying to get it at the same time, but Discovery’s demand wasn’t near that high and CBS struggled to keep up.
An hour long show in 41 minutes. Because the lower tier of CBS All Access has commercials in it, Discovery was designed to fit the network standard of a 41-43 minute hour instead of the streaming standard of “basically whatever we feel like.” Hulu, which also has commercials, let its episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale go close to a full hour and that’s pretty much what you expect out of a streaming show. A 41-minute show on streaming, especially with no commercials, feels like a long half-hour. I wanted more.
Bad Housekeeping. I watched every episode on streaming and yet All Access always thought the “next episode” was Episode 2, “Battle of the Binary Stars.” It showed some episodes as unwatched even though I watched them. Just a little annoyance that hit me in the face every time I opened the app, which was precisely once a week.
All in all, the CBS All Access experience was pretty bad for me, and what sends me over the top is the way they’ve done this season of Discovery. By putting the show on hiatus for about two months, they’re hoping people will just get lazy and not cancel the service when there’s nothing on. Don’t let them get away with it! Unless you’re deeply into reruns of The Good Wife, go to the device you used right now and cancel CBS All Access. I promise you’ll be able to pick it up again when you want to. Don’t let CBS get away with taking more of your money and providing nothing.
In fairness I should say that I’m not attacking the streaming model per se. While I do think that a show with this high production value would benefit the over-the-air broadcast side, I can see where CBS wanted to use it as a launchpad for its streaming app (which technically launched a while back with zero fanfare.) I can see that streaming is really the right place to put a violent gritty show (with Klingon boobs) and there’s freedom there that CBS would not enjoy if it had the show on the public airwaves.
I would rather have had this show on broadcast and not paid for it, and having paid for it, I would rather the ads have been removed… either-or, folks, not both. You don’t get my money and the advertisers’ money too. But ok, can’t ignore the new model, and can’t live in the past. But CBS, if you were going to do this you should have done it right, and you didn’t.
For that reason alone, don’t give them another $12 of your money. Go ahead, cancel them now. I’ll wait.